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Bilingual Kids and the Animal Kingdom: A List of Links

August 20, 2013

Happy gecko

Do you know why I got an “F” in Biology in 7th grade?

Before then, I even had my heart set on becoming a veterinarian. I loved animals as a child—and still do—but that “F” in Biology damaged my dream. I lost confidence as a student of science, and never really recovered from the experience. (I’m still convinced the Earth is flat.)

You see, my Biology teacher assigned us the task of making an insect collection. We had to catch the insects in a glass jar with a bed of cotton balls soaked in fingernail polish—a mini gas chamber. Once the fumes killed the insects, we would mount them on straight pins in a box and label them.

If you caught over 50 different insects, you got an “A”; if you had less than 10, you earned an “F.”

Squirming on the pin

Soon after I started my collection, I gave up. It sounds silly, perhaps, but I just couldn’t kill them. Even today, when I find a bug in the house, I’ll catch it and put it outside. (But I do make an exception for mosquitoes and cockroaches.)

I’m not sure why I even brought my sorry insect collection to school, but I did. And when I lifted the lid off the small box, revealing five or six insects, I remember clearly how one of them was squirming there on the pin. Apparently, the fingernail polish had only knocked it out and it woke up with a straight pin pushed through its body.

“F,” my teacher said.

Invaded by animals

I’m sharing this story with you to help explain why my posts are often invaded by animals. In some ways, though I never became that veterinarian, I’m still the child I once was, thrilled by creatures of all kinds.

I thought, then, that it might be fun to gather together the many posts I’ve written where animals make an appearance and put the links on a single page for handy access. If you missed some of these posts, please take a peek. I’m sure I’ll continue adding to this list, too, so stop by again from time to time.

List of links

Strange-But-True Tales: Baby Chicks in the Bathtub
Tell your bilingual kids stories from your own childhood to engage their language ability.

Venomous Snakes and the Bilingual Child
A homestay guest from Papua New Guinea provides a remarkable example of determination.

The Time I Got Bitten By A Lion
You don’t believe me, do you? That’s okay, no one does—until they see the proof…

How Fighting Like Furious Monkeys Can Benefit Your Bilingual Kids
Having your children calmly describe their quarrels can benefit their ability to tell a narrative in the minority language.

How Rats in the Bathroom Can Boost a Child’s Bilingual Ability
This new “captive reading” tactic can nurture more sophisticated forms of language, including advanced vocabulary.

It’s a Scientific Fact! Baby Praying Mantises Can Get Your Child Reading More in the Minority Language!
Once your children have begun to read in the minority language, look for opportunities to playfully encourage more independent reading.

The One Way Parents of Bilingual Kids Must Be Like a Panda Bear
A panda eating bamboo is the perfect symbol of a mindset needed by us all to advance steadily on this bilingual journey.

2 Key Reasons to Keep an Archive of Your Children’s Work
If you don’t already have a satisfactory system for collecting your children’s written work, this is something that really deserves your attention.

A Sneaky Way to Get Bilingual Kids to Use the Minority Language
To get your children eagerly using the minority language, try making “mystery” a conscious tactic in your efforts.

1 Maria February 25, 2015 at 5:28 am

I love your website!
I am trying to raise my daughter (6 months now) to be bilingual. One aspect I’m not sure how to deal with is animal sounds. Do you recommend teaching animal sounds in just one language or will a pig say “oink” sometimes but not others, depending on who is asking/what language we are speaking at the moment…?!?! Any tips or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

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2 Adam February 25, 2015 at 8:10 pm

Maria, thanks for your positive feedback! And congratulations on the birth of your first child!

I think the sounds of animals can be treated much like any other vocabulary: just share the sounds that are used in each language. I don’t know how you’ve organized the use of the two languages within your family, but if you use one language and your husband uses the other, the child will come to distinguish the different animal sounds quite naturally. In any event, when one language is being used, use those animal sounds; when it’s the other language, the other sounds should be used.

And, Maria, if you haven’t already come across my resource page for new parents, that may be of special interest.

All the best to you and your family! :mrgreen:

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